Fighting the pandemic - COVID-19 research at the University of Helsinki

Researchers at the University of Helsinki are actively working on solutions to fight COVID-19 and to support society in these challenging times. On Thursday 11.6.2020 at 10-11am, four researchers told about their current research and discuss how the crisis could be solved.

Are certain people more susceptible than others to COVID-19? How does the SARS-CoV-2 virus spread on surfaces and in the air? Can we develop a vaccine against COVID-19? These are some of the questions you might have wondered in the last few months. University of Helsinki researchers answered these questions and more during an online event organized by the Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE) on Thursday 11.6.2020 at 10-11am, so mark your calendar!

Four researchers will introduce their COVID-19 research, sharing their views on how to solve this acute crisis, as well as find solutions for similar kinds of future challenges. 

Watch the video of the live stream here.

Vincenzo Cerullo

Professor of Biological Drug Development, Faculty of Pharmacy, Head of Drug Research Program, HiLIFE fellow, Translational Immunology Programme

Dr. Vincenzo Cerullo started the ImmunoViroTherapy Lab in 2012, after being awarded the tenure-track professorship at the University of Helsinki. In these years, IVTLab has raised more than 5 million Euros for research, including the prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant, HiLIFE fellow and Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation grant, to research how viruses can be used as platforms to induce and/or orchestrate the tumor-specific immune response. The group has produced tens of scientific papers and patents, and has co-founded a multimillion spin-off company together with the University of Helsinki (VALO therapeutics). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Cerullo has also been working on developing a prophylactic and therapeutic vaccine for SARS-COV-2.

Watch here the presentation of Vincenzo Cerullo.

Leena Maunula

Senior scientist, university lecturer, docent in Food and Environmental Virology

Dr. Leena Maunula leads a group of food and environmental virology at the Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She is a microbiologist with over 30 year-expertise in virology research including virus diagnostics. She made her PhD thesis on rotaviruses in children in Meilahti campus. Now in Viikki Campus, her group is striving to understand how pathogenic viruses like SARS-CoV-2 spread through food, water and environment.

Nina Atanasova

Senior scientist, visiting scientist, Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher, docent in Microbiology

Docent Nina Atanasova is an environmental microbiologist, working both at the University of Helsinki, as a visiting scientist, and at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, as a senior scientist at the Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling group. Her current research focuses on the viability and infectivity of atmospheric microorganisms, particularly the detection of viruses from air samples. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Atanasova’s work has focused on gaining more information about the droplet transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Watch here the presentation by Leena Maunula and Nina Atanasova.

Mark Daly

Director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM)

Dr. Mark Daly is Director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) at HiLIFE, University of Helsinki. He retains also active affiliations at the Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute. Dr. Daly focuses on development and application of statistical methods in human disease genetics and has made major contributions to gene discovery in inflammatory bowel disease, autism and schizophrenia. At FIMM, he explores research and translational uses of Finnish biobank, registry and genome data. Dr Daly is a co-architect of the FinnGen project, a landmark public-private effort to integrate decades of medical registry data with genomic data in 10% of the Finnish population. During the current pandemic, he has also been involved in launching the COVID-19 host genome initiative, which he is currently coordinating together with Dr. Andrea Ganna from FIMM.

The event will be hosted by freelance journalist Jari Hanska, and streamed from the Think Corner and through Facebook-live.

Watch here the presentation of Mark Daly.

Watch the video of the full stream here.

Preliminary program

10.00    Opening of the event

10.05    Vincenzo Cerullo’s talk + Q&A

10.20    Leena Maunula and Nina Atanasova’s talk + Q&A

10.40    Mark Daly’s talk + Q&A

10.55    Closing remarks

During the event, researchers will also answer questions regarding the pandemic and their COVID-19 research. You can send your questions even before the event at the following WhatsApp number: 050 311 9811. Please send your questions in English.

You can also send questions before the event at the Facebook event page.

More information

Chiara Facciotto
Project Planner
Helsinki Institute of Life Science 

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Solving the crisis - support coronavirus research

Researchers at the University of Helsinki are tirelessly developing new diagnostics and drug therapies to treat coronavirus infections. Among the key lines of research are identifying antibodies to prevent and treat the disease, investigating opportunities in drug treatment and developing tests. Our researchers have already created a test that can be used to determine which people have had the disease. The study is based on solid expertise in virology as well as the study of zoonoses and infections at the University of Helsinki.

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